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Thursday, July 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Bill Graham’s Sons Must Pay for Rock Archive Suit

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - After losing their claim to the memorabilia of late rock promoter Bill Graham, two of Graham's sons must cover their opponent's legal fees, a federal judge ruled.

During his heyday in the 1960s, Bill Graham produced shows featuring the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and other rock luminaries at his Fillmore concert venue, later known as the Fillmore West. He also promoted several Rolling Stones tours and created the Shoreline Amphitheatre in the Silicon Valley with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Graham died in a helicopter crash on Oct. 25, 1991.

In 2010, the promoter's sons, Alexander Graham-Sult and David Graham, brought a breach of fiduciary duty suit against the executor of their father's estate, Nicholas Clainos, who had been longtime president of Bill Graham Enterprises. The lawsuit also named Greene Radovsky Maloney Share & Hennigh law firm, two attorneys, the Bill Graham Archives, Norton LLC and a shareholder of those companies.

Graham's sons claimed that the defendants had underreported the value of their father's archives, a collection of rock memorabilia including hundreds of concert posters and scrapbooks. Though Clainos and the Greene firm allegedly estimated the archives' entire value at $305,000, the brothers said a mere portion of it is worth several million dollars.

Kerr & Wagstaffe, one of the law firms that represented the defendants, told Courthouse News that "the lawsuits against our clients were dismissed across the board."

As the appeal proceeds, each set of defendants moved for attorneys' fees.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ordered the brothers to pay more than $500,000.

Nicholas Clainos and the law firm defendants brought their separate motions under California's Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law. Meanwhile, the incorporated archives and its co-defendants found relief under the Copyright Act.

Clainos can recoup more than $126,000; Greene Radovsky and the lawyers will get more than $240,000; and the archives are set to receive more than $137,000 in fees and costs.

They were represented by Michael Ching and Cannata Ching, of Ching & O'Toole; James Wagstaffe of Kerr & Wagstaffe; Ronald Mallen of Hinshaw & Culberson; and Erin Ranahan of Winston & Strawn.

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